How to Intentionally Build a Great Company Culture

How do you create culture? The answer is, you don’t!

The way we work and communicate has changed drastically over the past year, but our ability to adapt as organizations and individuals is worth celebrating. What hasn’t changed is our dire need for human interaction. 

Whether we are communicating in person or from behind the screens, the workplace as we know it has changed significantly, and culture continues to be a buzzword that gets thrown around rather loosely.

Culture is not a foosball table in the lunchroom, virtual karaoke or beers on a Friday afternoon. There’s a deep psychology that comes with building an intentional culture. It needs to be approached tactically and tangibly.

Developing a code of conduct that people adhere to and are consistent with is the core of what culture really looks like. If you try to create culture, you will fail. Instead, let it create itself and then provide it with the nutrients it needs to grow. Those nutrients are specific. The more specific you are when laying out your code of conduct, the more successful you will become. Companies need to strive for high performance, high retention, and high engagement, which can all be done by being clear and being specific.

Creating a code of conduct is the delivery system in which you implement your culture, that’s where the magic is.

 3 C’s to building culture.

Most companies think and talk about culture, but that is not specific enough, which is why most teams fall apart. Having a culture does not mean you have a culture. Instead, what it really boils down to is how you implement it. Most organizations approach culture the wrong way. They usually come up with a mission statement, a list of values like trust and integrity, then chalk it up and call it culture. But those words carry no weight because they don’t necessarily mean the same thing to every person. If you ask someone to define trust, you will come back with a multitude of explanations. Cultural thought leader and President of ShiftYes Galen Emanuele – operates under the 3 C’s Model: Clarity, Consistency and Commitment, which he expands upon in detail in my newest podcast episode, “Let’s Sound Off on: Creating an Intentional Company Culture. Now, let’s explore those terms in a little more detail.

Clarity is about creating a clear set of ground rules that are not driven by values but by behaviours. You have first to unpack what those respectable behaviours are and then lay them out plain and simple. For example, treating people with respect means different things to different folks. A better way to present this is by providing a clearly articulated statement like “we don’t gossip or speak poorly about one another under any circumstance.” This not only makes it easier to understand but easier to measure. When we provide vague statements, they are naturally subject to interpretation. Culture has to be based on behaviour and behavioural excellence, not on values.

Consistency is the act of integrating your culture into your organisation’s fabric; the hiring, training, development, and rewards available to your employees shows that you appreciate and invest in your people. Culture has to go beyond a poster on the wall. What you really need is to weave it into everything that you do. For example, if one of your codes of conduct is treating people with respect, you should provide training like approaching communication in a non-threatening manner. You’re ensuring that everyone who joins your team is well equipped to fulfil your cultural objectives through the training and support you’ve provided them at the time of hire.

Commitment is committing yourself to uphold the same behaviour. People in executive positions need to lead by example and ensuring that no one is exempt, including themselves. All employees must act in alignment; otherwise, the culture will crumble. It has to apply to all, regardless of role or seniority. You also have to make sure that your team holds each other accountable. You must be 100% committed to your culture if you’re going to expect others to follow along. How do we show up? Together.

 The number one takeaway.

It’s not widely understood how to impact people’s behaviour, and that’s not to say that you’re missing the mark; it’s to say that people honestly don’t understand how to dive deep into the minds of others. If you’ve ever had a discussion in your office about behaviour or performance with a member of your team, you’ll notice that most will internalize the feedback or disagree completely. The more clarity that you provide in advance, the easier those conversations become. Creating a set of ground rules that are specific leaves little room for interpretation. It would help if you also were diligent in implementing these ground rules by putting a zero-tolerance policy in place to uphold that core culture. 

Many business professionals, especially those of us in human resources, are finding it challenging to maintain a sense of community within our respective organizations. As we move to a more virtual way of life, it is critical, now more than ever, to find ways to innovate and adapt to create an intentional workplace culture that continues to push the organization forward. By adopting the 3C’s model you can successfully build a great and intentional company culture.

The HR Sound Off Podcast Show is geared towards HR and business professionals and demystifies our professions many misconceptions.

By tapping into expertise from around the world, HR Sound Off digs deep into who HR professionals are at their core and highlights the industries collective struggles and fears. Let’s sound off!

by Julie Turney, (HRforHR)